Slightly late birthday fic for two very lovely ladies, cordeliadelayne and bigtitch . Sorry it's a) late, and b) shared. Hope you enjoy it.
Title: A Pirate’s Life For Me - Part 1
Pairing/characters: Stephen, Becker
Warnings: Violence, possibly pre-slash if you squint a bit?
Disclaimer: Not mine. ITV and Impossible Pictures own them.
Word count: approx 1635 this part (6540 in total)
Summary: Stephen and Becker are captured by pirates. Genuine, 18th century pirates.
AN: Birthday fic for cordeliadelayne and bigtitch
“If you’re going to kill me, why don’t you just get on with it?”
Stephen tried to put as much disdain in his voice as possible, but the laughter from the men stood all around him told him just how successful that had been. The rough wood of the deck was digging ever deeper holes in the knees of his trousers, and, for that matter, into his knees, but he refused to react to the pain. Besides, it wasn’t the worst thing that they had done to him in the last few hours.
The pirate captain stepped forwards and loomed over him, blocking out the glare of the sun that had been beating down on Stephen’s bare chest and shoulders. For a moment the giant man was surrounded with a halo of glowing light. Although, Stephen reflected, the pirate captain was far from angelic.
“Kill you?” the pirate captain roared in obvious amusement. “Where would be the fun in that?”
“So what is all this about then?” Stephen challenged, glaring up at the man, but nodding his head towards the crew. Most of them seemed to have stopped work and were gathered around him in a loose but large circle, or else hanging from rigging, presumably to get a better view.
The pirate captain stepped back and signalled to one of his men, and then Stephen heard a scuffling sound, and an angry yell, followed by a thud. Some of the pirates moved aside to create a gap in the circle, and two more crewmen dragged in a third man, stripped to the waist and barefoot, and covered in cuts and bruises, and deposited him on the deck a little way in front of Stephen.
Becker looked up and gave him a small smile.
“I think they may have miss-sold that luxury cruise we were promised,” Becker said.
Stephen managed a tight smile in return.
“So, as I was saying,” the pirate captain continued, as if there had been no interruption at all. “Just killing you would be boring.”
Stephen was aware of the circle around them widening a fraction, and then there was a metallic scraping sound, and two swords slid across the deck and rolled to a stop between the two men.
“So,” the pirate captain said, “We’re going to watch you kill each other.”
With hindsight, chasing the cat through the anomaly had been a mistake. Stephen hadn’t seen the cat until it was too late and the animal was already through the anomaly, its tail swishing as it vanished. Stephen had dived after it without hesitating, his only thought was to bring it back before Cutter went off on one of his rants about species cross-contamination. He hadn’t expected to suddenly find himself flailing in mid-air for a second before plunging into the cold waters several feet beneath the anomaly. He also hadn’t expected Captain Becker to follow him a few seconds later, almost knocking him out as he too fell into the sea.
Once they had got over the initial shock, and Stephen had got used to the fact that there was a very angry cat clinging to his shoulder, they had quickly realised two very important things. One: that the anomaly was too high above the water for them to reach, and two: that there was absolutely no sign of land in any direction. All they could do was tread water and hope that the rescue, when it came, had the sense to look first before piling in after them.
And then the anomaly had closed.
They had still been arguing over whether to stay at the anomaly site in the hope of it reopening, or whether to just pick a direction and start swimming, when Stephen had spotted the ship heading towards them. Their relief at the possibility of rescue had been somewhat dampened when they were finally picked up and realised that not only was it an 18th century sailing ship, but that it was flying the Jolly Roger.
Quickly stripped of their weapons and searched for anything remotely valuable, the pirates had seemed quite disappointed when they realised there was nothing even vaguely resembling treasure in their pockets. Stephen had been separated from Becker and taken to a room where he was bombarded with questions about who he was, and how he came to be lost at sea, and where his ship was. Stephen had kept his answers as vague as possible while he tried to work out a cover story that didn’t in any way involve rips in the fabric of space and time and the fact that he was from several hundred years in the future. The pirate captain had wandered in and out during his questioning. Stephen presumed he was also overseeing Becker’s interrogation at the same time. Stephen also noted that the pirate captain seemed ever more pissed off every time he re-entered the room. He suspected that meant Becker was being particularly stubborn. Either way, eventually the pirate captain apparently decided he’d had enough, and ordered his men to take Stephen out on deck.
As he’d been dragged through the narrow corridor that lead back out onto deck, Stephen had briefly wondered what happened to the cat. He rather hoped it was now running around in the hold chasing mice.
Becker slowly got to his knees and reached for the sword nearest to him. Stephen couldn’t help staring. Becker looked in a lot worse state than Stephen himself was in. As well as the cuts and bruises, there were three thin red lines across his chest that could only be the marks left by a whip. Stephen couldn’t help wondering just how much of a fight Becker must have given them to warrant such treatment.
“Pick up the sword,” Becker said quietly.
“You’re not serious?”
“I am. Pick it up. Get up. Get ready to fight.”
What? Stephen couldn’t believe it. Was Becker really prepared to fight him, to kill him, to save himself?
“Get up,” Becker repeated, dragging himself to his feet and hefting the sword in his hand.
Stephen picked up the other sword and stood up, his eyes never leaving Becker.
“So what happens now?” Becker said loudly, his words aimed at the pirate captain, but his eyes locked on Stephen and the sword in his hand. “We fight to the death, and then what? What does the winner get out of it?”
“The winner gets to live,” the pirate captain said, a response that was almost drowned out by the jeers and laughter of his crew.
“You really need to work on your sales technique,” Becker quipped.
Stephen flexed his grip on the hilt of the sword and tested its weight and balance. The pirates mostly seemed to be carrying the relatively short curved cutlass type swords, the classic pirate weapon of choice according to any number of Hollywood films. Instead of a cutlass, he and Becker had both been given a long thin rapier with a basket hilt, the classic duelling weapon. It wasn’t quite the same as the type of sword he was familiar with from his fencing days, but he suspected the technique would be similar enough for all practical purposes. The real difference was that those he was used to were blunted, sports swords. These were the real thing, these were designed to kill.
He began to circle sideways, and Becker did likewise, crouching slightly.
Around them the watching crowd began to shout and jeer and egg them on.
“Are we really going to do this?” Stephen asked quietly.
“Of course we bloody aren’t,” Becker replied in a voice so quiet Stephen could barely hear him. “But for god’s sake make it look like we are to buy some time.”
Becker lunged at him with an abrupt movement that flailed wide of the mark by a long way. The jeers grew louder as Becker pulled back and they continued circling.
“Buy time for what? Even if we could escape, the only place to go is back into the sea.”
Stephen stepped close and feinted, allowing Becker to parry him in a clumsy-looking manoeuvre. Stephen was a skilled enough fencer to recognise just how good the soldier really was to make a move like that look so bad.
Something that might have been a smile twitched at the corner of Becker’s mouth.
“You’re missing the obvious flaw in their plan: They’ve given us both weapons.”
Stephen feinted again, apparently testing Becker’s defences.
“I’ve seen your file,” Becker continued. “Shortlisted for the Olympic fencing team a few years back.”
“And what about you?”
“Captain of the fencing and kendo teams at university.”
As if to demonstrate the point, Becker stepped in again and their swords clashed. Suddenly they were inches away from each other, and Stephen could see the sweat trickling down Becker’s face.
“There’s at least twenty of them,” Stephen felt the need to point out as they paused for breath, still locked together.
“Ten to one? Easy.”
Becker’s grin looked a touch on the insane side, and for a second Stephen wondered exactly what the pirates had done to him. Then they pulled away from each other and began to circle again. The shouts from the pirates were now turning to boos as they became bored with all the feints and testing. They wanted fighting. They wanted blood.
Stephen bounced slightly and attacked with a lunge that speared the tip of his sword through the fabric of Becker’s trousers, without so much as touching his leg. Becker’s eyes widened for a second and the pirates roared their approval.
“Okay,” Stephen muttered as he tugged his sword out and spun out of reach of Becker’s counter strike. “Let’s do it.”
“Count of three. One. Two. Three.”
And then all hell broke loose.